WHEN Jack Williamson was playing basketball recently, his mother was moved to tears as he kept his hands on the ball and ran in the right direction.
A game of sport wouldn't normally make Mrs Williamson so emotional, but Jack has Down syndrome and the family have struggled to find a club for the eager 11 year old.
For Jack to take part in mainstream sport is a landmark for Mrs Williamson. Another landmark would be greater community understanding of Down syndrome, about which there is still widespread ignorance.
She, and Wendy McQuie, whose baby was born with the syndrome, want to increase awareness and have organised an afternoon tea for the Wantirna Wasps basketball team this weekend to mark World Down Syndrome Day.
Despite the Knox, and nearby Kilsyth basketball associations being home to literally hundreds of teams, the Williamson family struggled to find an appropriate club for Jack and his younger brother and sister.
'I wanted Jack to have a chance to play in a mainstream team and be part of the same club as his brother and sister. I live locally to Knox Basketball stadium and I was led to contact the Wantirna Wasps Basketball Club," Mrs Williamson said.
The Wasps have more than 70 teams and 500 players which meant there was an 'E' level team suitable for Jack to join.
"I was really quite nervous about it initially, but as long as it's a positive experience, there's no reason why he can't do it," Mrs Williamson said.
"He has played 11 games since October and he loves it. But it's hard for him because of his little muscle tone — he has to work extra hard."
Jack regularly practices in the backyard with siblings Ella and Ryan. "I can work hard, get fit and make friends. I like being part of a team," Jack said.
When Mrs Williamson was watching her youngest son Ryan play basketball one Saturday last year she met Wantirna mum Mrs McQuie who had a son in the same team as Ryan.
Mrs McQuie said seeing Jack play for a mainstream basketball team was encouraging for the future she sees for her baby, Jake.
"I didn't know what it really was when told Jake had Down syndrome and we were quite terrified."
Mrs Williamson said there was still a lot of ignorance about the disability, despite 60 babies being born with Down syndrome each year in Victoria.
Following Jack's success of navigating the ball through the opposing players last month, Mrs Williamson is confident a goal for her son isn't too far away.
For details about the afternoon tea, call Kim Williamson on 0425 843 896 or visit downsyndromevictoria.org.au to make a donation.